Walmart Turns Four Stores Into eCommerce Test Hubs

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Walmart is looking at merging its fulfillment centers and the aisles of its stores. As online sales surge during the pandemic, the retailer plans to test a new concept at four stores that will “operate as both physical shopping destinations and online fulfillment centers,” the company stated.

“In this new era of retail, assets that used to serve a single purpose will transform into flexible, scalable assets that can be used in multiple ways to serve customers how, when and where they need,” Walmart said in a press release. The company said that “evolving” its stores is part of its plan to gear up for the future.

The company said it will “continuously rotate new technology, digital tools and physical enhancements in and out of the stores” that are being used as test sites. Two are already up and running.

Walmart said that “teams will be embedded in the stores to prototype, test and iterate solutions.” The retailer said it will keep what works and scrap what doesn’t.

“Not everything stocked in stores today can be found online,” the company said. In the first test store, the retailer has moved “most of the in-store apparel assortment online.” The initial goal is “to identify other hard-to-manage categories” and work to make them available online, with the ultimate goal of making all eligible store items available online as well.

The pandemic has continued to boost eCommerce. An Adobe Analytics report said there is the potential for online spending to exceed $200 billion, a news release said.

“The holiday shopping season is starting earlier than ever this year, and we expect record online sales as many consumers opt to shop online to avoid stores because of the unknown around COVID-19,” said John Copeland, vice president of marketing and customer insights at Adobe.

Walmart has made moves to start the holidays early, offering deals throughout November.

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